Community Conversation: Navigating COVID – What’s Your New Normal?

Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative, in collaboration with The Synergy Health Center and Integrated Services of Kalamazoo, will welcome community members to a Community Conversation: Navigating COVID – What’s Your New Normal? to take place at El Concilio, 930 Lake Street, in Kalamazoo on Tuesday, June 28, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Facilitated small group discussions will provide a forum to voice challenges and lift up solutions to mental health issues brought on by COVID-19, such as feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and stress caused by long periods of isolation and operating in an altered environment.

The event, for those 18 and older, will include a light dinner and childcare (limited space). Registration is required by June 24, as space will be limited. Interested community members should register at Spanish-speaking interpreters and facilitators will be available. Those needing ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation should note that when registering. Mental health resources also will be available before and after the event. 

Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative (SWMJC) launched the Mental Wellness Project in April of 2022. The project is a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in Southwest Michigan. 

Solutions reporting is advanced by inclusive dialogue with diverse community members. “By hosting this type of Community Conversation, we envision community members connecting with each other – and mental health professionals,” SWMJC Project Manager and Editor Melinda Clynes said. “For the members of our media collaborative who want to get to know their audiences better, this type of platform allows them to listen, which, in turn, helps to build trust and empathy between the newsroom and the community.”

This community conversation will help to inform SWMJC’s coverage of mental health topics to make sure it is addressing issues that are relevant to community members. SWMJC reporters will be there to listen, learn and connect. Members will be reporting on the event itself, but will not use names or photos to maintain the confidentiality of participants. 

Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative is a dynamic group of 12 partners representing media, educational or community organizations dedicated to strengthening local journalism. SWMJC’s mission is to support and enhance the news ecosystem in Southwest Michigan, to provide accurate and equitable coverage, and to promote diversity of voices among journalists and sources alike. 

Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK) has been delivering quality services and programs to improve lives for over 30 years. It provides a welcoming and diverse community partnership to support youth, families, and adults with mental illnesses, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders to be successful through all phases of life.

The Synergy Health Center is a healthcare organization dedicated to transforming lives for generations and empowering people for a lifetime. It believes the culturally diverse mental and behavioral health services it provides gives individuals and families the tools they need to have a better quality of life.